behaviour: recent publications

Tilly: my mental health toolbox

My mental illness at times caused much distress. Since my first episode of illness, a gradual process of receiving professional help, reaching out for support around me, improving my own understanding and self-awareness, and developing a tool kit of self care and coping strategies has allowed me to evolve from struggle to recovery and ongoing managementI am able to live, enjoy and adventure in spite of having a complex mental illness.My handle on my condition is strong. I experience warning signs of mania, including restlessness, erratic or racing thoughts, difficulty sleeping and urges to complete unnecessary tasks.

Recently I reflected that, although I can identify them (an important step which itself took time to achieve), I was struggling to deal with them in the moment.I decided to contact a psychologist for guidance around developing coping strategies and ways to approach calming these symptoms better. My GP set up the referral, commending my proactive choice to seek support even though my illness has little current impact on my day-to-day life.I have learnt the hard way that reaching out for support early is crucial in staying on top of mental illness. A culture of help-seeking is vital for staying well.When I was 17, my condition surfaced for the first time.

I experienced depression for several months. Among my negative thoughts was guilt — a feeling that I had no reason to be depressed and it was silly to feel this way. Consequently, I was too ashamed to tell anyone.I had a friend who noticed I was withdrawn and quiet, which was unlike my positive, bubbly self.

She asked me if everything was ok and said they were there if I needed to talk. That showed me that people did want to help. Though I chose not to open

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